Wed05042016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Subcommittee offers plan to rescue Tiny Tots

Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier

Tiny Tots preschool teacher Sara Callahan, left, helps Cecilia Dahl, 3, make a festive hat for Thanksgiving. The preschool could face closure if it fails to attain financial solvency.

A report from the Los Altos Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission (PARC) subcommittee could help wean Tiny Tots from its $55,754 annual city subsidy, rescuing the preschool from imminent closure.

Several Los Altos City councilmembers oppose the subsidy largely because the preschool does not meet the city-mandated 100 percent cost recovery and is bleeding money. The 2008-2009 study reported that 44 percent of Tiny Tots’ preschoolers did not reside in Los Altos and that the program lost $51,268 after repaying 53 percent of the cost recovery.

“We’re not in the business of social services,” said Councilwoman Val Carpenter in June in defense of the city’s desire to drop the subsidy.

But the PARC report, compiled by commissioners Maria Bautista, Pradeep Parmar and Larry Baron and scheduled for presentation at Tuesday’s council meeting, recommends several strategies to offset expenses.

The report suggests adding an afternoon program. Tiny Tots currently operates a preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds. Coupled with a fee increase and possible ramp-up in marketing, the expansion could pull the program into the black.

“Either a contract program or a (Los Altos) Recreation Department program can utilize the site in the afternoon,” according to the report, citing the facility’s availability after noon. “Preliminary analysis of a Kindergarten Preparation program indicates that at a capacity of 24 students, 100 percent cost recovery could be achieved with 73 percent classroom utilization across all programs.”

The subcommittee also determined that fee increases would be necessary. A focus group including Tiny Tots parents and PARC representatives discovered that parents would tolerate a 10-15 percent tuition increase.

“I think there’s a lot of leeway for a tuition increase,” said parent Anne Schmidt, whose 4-year-old is currently enrolled.

The report shows an inverse correlation between student capacity and necessary fee increases, stating that at 85 percent class use, fees need to increase 45 percent to achieve 100 percent cost recovery; at 90 percent use, a 29 percent fee increase; and at 100 percent use, a 16 percent increase.

Leea Guy, the Los Altos recreation coordinator who oversees Tiny Tots, agreed that increased marketing efforts could contribute to achieving 100 percent capacity.

In addition to onsite signs and banners to attract drive-by traffic, Guy suggested increasing e-mail outreach and direct-mail brochures to Los Altos families with children that fit the programs’ target demographics.

“We’re in a new generation and need to have some kind of web-based marketing,” said Michael Wegmann, a Tiny Tot parent, at a PARC meeting Nov. 12.

Tiny Tots runs only one program for 3-year-olds and one for 4-year-olds. Guy said the addition of a Kindergarten Preparation program, targeted at 5-year-olds, would be key.

The annual fee for the current program for 3-year-olds is $1,620 for Los Altos residents and $1,662 for nonresidents. For 4-year-olds, tuition is $2,273 for residents and $2,315 for nonresidents.

The addition of a prekindergarten program, which could assist in achieving financial solvency, would require Tiny Tots to install an air-conditioning system for $8,000 to $10,000, according to the report.

A preliminary PARC subcommittee report recommended relocating Tiny Tots from its current San Antonio Club site, but parents’ objections caused the committee to reject the suggestion.

The city council is scheduled to review PARC’s recommendations and determine a plan of action at its Tuesday meeting.

Tiny Tots has been under scrutiny since June, when councilmembers balked at the preschool’s annual subsidy and failure to recover its costs.

Parents and preschoolers staged a demonstration at city hall to protest the school’s potential closure. Placards read, “Get priorities straight” and “Don’t I matter?” After deliberation, the council voted unanimously to extend the preschool’s operation until July and have representatives return with a plan for financial independence at the Tuesday meeting.

Schmidt, who hopes her 2-year-old son can attend next year, said she’d be hard-pressed to find a better program than Tiny Tots.

“It would be a huge loss,” she said. “It would be huge. I just really like the program.”

Contact Elliott Burr at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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